This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Fashola Honours 2002 Bomb Blast Victims

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Monday named the Ejigbo-Ajao Link Bridge, after the victims of the Ikeja Cantonment bomb blast, who died in the swamp of Oke-Afa canal on January 27, 2002.

Fashola honoured the victims of the blast, while unveiling the 2.1 kilometre bridge and road christened 'January 27 Link Bridge' in memory of the victims that were trapped and died in the canal.

The governor, who led other members of the State Executive Council (SEC) and community leaders to observe a minute silence in honour of the over 1,000 victims of the blast, said such an incident would have been avoided if the authorities in charge had been alive to their responsibilities.

He said women, men and children perished in the Oke-Afa canal because a federal government failed "to do its duties."

"There is no other excuse for it. That was their responsibility to manage bombs and explosives and to look after the Nigerian military, but they dropped the bombs," he added.

Since the incident, the governor said the federal government had pretended as if nothing was wrong, thereby prompted his government "to intervene by rebuilding the schools and hospitals located within the Ikeja Cantonment which were destroyed by the incident."

He added that the Ejigbo-Ajao link road was another fulfilment of the promise of the state government in 2002 "to open up the area as part of our drive to renew inner city roads. My predecessor promised that a bridge would be built to link Ejigbo to Ajao Estate. I have come to fulfil that promise."

On road rehabilitation in Ejigbo, Fashola berated the federal government for ignoring roads in the area, which he said, were damaged by the activities of tankers lifting fuel from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) depot in the area. According to him, "It shows the kind of respect and concern that the party (PDP) that manages that federal government has for you; they will come back to you to come and ask for votes." In a reaction to the call for compensation made by some families of victims of the bomb blast, the governor said it was impossible for government to compensate survivors of victims every year, but he assured them that cases of genuine beneficiaries not yet captured would be addressed.

"No amount of compensation that we pay that can bring back the lives of those that we lost and as much as we are willing to do so, you must assist us to verify who the real beneficiaries of compensation are," he said.

Also speaking, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, said the essence of the road was to eliminate congestion along the Ejigbo corridor to enable travellers from Ikotun connect to the Airport Road without going through Isolo area. He said a recent study of the road showed that the travel time had reduced by about 75 minutes.

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